Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto said Thursday night that if the United States wants good relations with Nicaragua's new government, it should keep a low profile, "stop preaching" and demonstrate its good will by providing "unconditioned aid" to rebuild the country economically and militarily.
"We want to heal the wounds that are responsible for the distrust that inevitably exists with countries that were friendly with the Somoza regime," D'Escoto said. "The United States is one of those countries."
But D'Escoto made it clear in an interview that the leaders of the new government here cannot easily forget U.S. efforts, almost up until the day the new government entered Managua July 20, to thwart a complete Sandinista victory by attempting to keep Somoza's National Guard intact and by attempting to broaden the junta the Sandinistas selected to replace Anastasio Somoza.
The foreign minister even suggested that the United States may have been indirectly -- but deliberately -- responsible for Francisco Urcuyo's attempt to remain president after Somoza handed power to his political ally during the early hours of July 17, as part of a U.S.-approved transition plan.
Urcuyo's aborted attempt to retain power infuriated the Sandinistas and delayed their takeover for two days, While the National Guard used the time to continue fighting and then to escape to Honduras, Guatemala and the United States.
"We're looking very meticulously into the events of those two days," D'Escoto said. "We have a pretty good idea of what happened." Asked whether he was suggesting that the United States had a part in urging Urcuyo to attempt to remain in power, the foreign minister smiled and said, "I have no comment."
He did say, however, that Urcuyo would never have tried to remain in office had the United States "clearly stated that there would be no diplomatic recognition and no aid as long as the regime stayed in power." Despite his urgings, the foreign minister said, the State Department never issued such a statement.
D'Escoto said he has told American officials at the highest levels that, for these and other reasons, they must "understand that if we do not trust them as much as they would like, it is because they have not acted in a trustworthy manner."
Nonetheless, D'Escoto called his meeting in Quito, Ecuador, last week with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance "a milestone in this effort to rebuild relations on the basis of mutual respect and solidarity."
He also praised Lawrence Pezzulo, the U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua, and Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D-Neb.) who was here two weeks ago on a fact-finding trip, for their efforts to foster a positive relationship between Nicaragua and the United States.
"I'm confident that if things continue to go the way they are going now that the wounds we want to heal will be healed," D'Escoto said, "but it must be understood that it is not we who need to change. We have never been the aggressor."
About Interior Minister Tomas Borge's trip to Cuba this week, the purpose of which has remained a mystery, D'Escoto said Borge was not in Havana "on a vacation, you can be sure of that. The importance of his meetings are not to be blown up. They will not alter our foreign policy.
"Look," he said, "regardless of what the United States thinks about Cuba, we have established diplomatic relations with Cuba. We are developing -- and will continue to develop -- cordial relations with that sister republic."
D'Escoto said Nicaragua would also seek good relations with its neighbors to the north: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
"We are not particularly interested in exporting our revolution," he said.
"We have made, and will continue to make, efforts to calm their fears."
In general, the foreign minister said, Nicaragua will no longer follow a foreign policy aligned to that of the United States but will, instead, join the group of nonaligned countries that is to meet later this month in Havana.
The new foreign minister, a Maryknoll priest who lived for many years in the United States, plans to attend the nonaligned conference and to ask two things of the countries meeting there. Politically, he said, he will seek a resolution of "total support" for the Sandinista revolution.
Economically, he said, he will ask for preferential tariffs and other financial help.
"We cannot have all of our eggs in one basket and continue to depend exclusively on some countries that could decide, sooner or later, to cut off our oxygen," he said.
He said Nicaragua's new government would welcome economic aid from the United States as long as it is given without strings and as long as Washington does not wait to see which way the new government will go. This would be interpreted as a form of pressure, he said.
"We will not trade the sacred blood of our comrades," he said, "for a plate of lentils."